Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kevin Consolo, Co-Founder of FTI Brands LLC, located in Upper Arlington, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
FTI Brands makes innovative cleaning items for shoes, cars, golf equipment, and purses. Our customers are really anyone that uses any of these items and that wants a better way to clean them! SneakERASERS is the brand that started everything. It's the first pre-moistened foam shoe cleaner for midsole touch-ups on the go. We invented a pocket-sized cleaner that is ready to use so you can keep your kicks looking new wherever you are.
Tell us about yourself
When I graduated college, I thought I had it all figured out. I combined my marketing major with an English minor, and I was going to be a copywriter or an account executive in advertising. It turns out no one wanted to hire me (I graduated right before the 2008 housing crisis and recession, so that didn't help). I fought so hard to achieve my career goals in the corporate world, but I ended up spending time unemployed with several rejection letters. My entrepreneurial mindset only intensified as time went by, and I realized I had to make my own path to achieve my goals. When my good friend, Chris Pavlica, called me about an idea and offered to help invent a product, I knew this was my opportunity. It started as a "side hustle," but it quickly evolved into a full-time passion project. Now that I have a family, my motivation is providing for them and never having to go back to the unemployment line.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is leaving my full-time job, working for my own objectives...and never looking back. When you work every day on your own inventions with your good friend, it certainly doesn't feel like actual work.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
When you're the Co-Founder of a small business, it's hard to "clock out" and separate yourself from your entrepreneurial passion. Instead of a typical 9a-5p schedule, we tend to work whenever possible. We actually created a policy to carve out mandatory mental breaks and R&D days, but it's difficult to stick to them when there's so much you want to accomplish.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Take the first step and just focus on that. Reaching your end goal can look like a hard mountain to climb all at once, but you can't have a company if you're not willing to draft that business plan, make a phone call, file for a license, etc. -- just do the first thing!
- Make a list of people to call for advice. If you know people that have already successfully started a business, see if you can chat with them for 15-30 minutes and see what you can learn from their mistakes. The advice is invaluable.
- Set aside days for R&D. If you have a CPG product, visit some stores and check out the category or the competition. You can always learn through continued research, and you never know what idea will come from it.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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